I want to continue the Engage with Grace blog rally by highlighting my favorite comment thread about it, from a 2010 post on e-patients.net. For me, this is what blogging is about — providing a public space for debate about ideas that matter to you.
I really think that a topic like end of life discussions should not be open during thanksgiving. I think we should talk about the best things or happiest moments during holidays. There are days you can set and talk to your family about “end of life”, don’t turn a happy holiday to a gloomy holiday.
I’ll tell you what gloomy is.
It’s when a family member has had a catastrophic health disaster, with no meaningful recovery possible, sedated and hooked up to and dependent on life support, with tubes and beeping machines everywhere, with most of the family believing that the sick person would want to be let go, based on their interpretations of how they’d live their life till then, but others thinking the opposite, and others opposed to terminating life support, in general, for other reason. And, then that family starts to fight, or the loudest most assertive person takes over, or no decision is made at all and the sick person just lingers and dies anyway, because there’s nothing objective to show the way to would the sick person would have wanted for them selves.
Those scenarios, which get played out over and over and over again, is what is really and truly gloomy and awkward and morbid and painful, and that will wound and strain family ties like few other things will. Continue reading the thread…
Here are some other bloggers who have taken the theme and walked with it (“ran” doesn’t seem like the right verb here):
Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart – Brian Ahier
Chapstick, morphine, and good-byes: Engage With Grace – Carol Torgan
We Can Engage with Grace? – Wendy Sue Swanson
Adding Meaning to Thanksgiving: Engage with Grace – Eve Harris
Engage with Grace — Again, and Again, and Again – Bryan Vartabedian
Engage with Grace – Ted Eytan
Engage with Grace – Regina Holliday
e-Patient Dave says
Crap and poop: I was working on a long, detailed response, reflecting on several of the posts you sent, and then I clicked the wrong Close Tab thing, and it’s gone.
The short version:
1. Good heavens, look at all the things we find when we go below the surface, even the surface of something like Engage With Grace, which *isn’t* superficial.
2. You bent my trajectory years ago when you pointed out that the real value in blogs isn’t what’s broadcast, it’s in the discussion. I haven’t heard another soul point that out. Thanks.
Susannah Fox says
Thanks, Dave! I didn’t know what to expect from a comment that opened like that, but it ended well 🙂
Some posts are perfect on their own and nobody can write anything except, essentially, “Wow.” (Regina’s posts are often like that and certainly Carol’s beautiful essay about her dad is an example.) Other blog posts are clearly works in progress, with the author reaching out for help in thinking something through (yours are often like that and so are mine).
One reason I love how Alex framed EWG is her use of word “engage” — we must engage, discuss, debate within ourselves and with our loved ones so that we can fully understand each other’s wishes. That’s also why I like how you categorized your own EWG post as “participatory medicine” — to participate is to engage, in life and in blogging!
That scenario is truly gloomy. And if you don’t talk about what your personal beliefs are when you’re healthy, emotions muddle the situation drastically when you’re ill. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to have these conversations. You can be grateful for the health and blessings you have in the now, and prepare calmly and collectively for when that may not be the case.
B Fox says
Thanks for publishing this again. The links – especially the one from Atul Gawande – are pertinent and ‘calming.’